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Monday, October 23, 2017

Woz with Soldering Iron; Wooden Enclosures for Electronics (Video)



The Woz scared me for a second -- I tought he was going to leave a hot iron on the desk amidst paper and other flamable items.  But no -- he put the soldering iron in its holder. 

Later we hear Woz talking about the need to update schematic diagrams.  And I was esepcially taken by the use of wooden enclosures for electronic projects.  My BITX rigs have followed the Apple example. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Cliff Stoll -- K7TA -- Has THE KNACK. And a GREAT NOVA Video



Hack-A-Day had a piece on Cliff Stoll of  "The Cuckoo's Egg" and "Silicon Snake Oil" fame.  I read these books years ago.  I included a quote from Cliff on page 45 of the SolderSmoke book (the quote seemed to foreshadow my aversion to SDR). 

I didn't know that NOVA produced an hour-long program on Stoll's Cuckoo's Egg adventures.  It is really good.  Many of those involved play themselves in the video.  Very cool. See above. 

I checked Cliff's QRZ.com page.   We wrote several years ago that Cliff has THE KNACK.  Note below his preference for thermatrons and the affection for Heathkits.  Diagnosis confirmed. 

From QRZ.com: 

   Hi gang!   This is Cliff Stoll, K7TA
   Way back in the Jurassic, I was licensed as WN2PSX, in Buffalo NY.  Got my general ticket around 1967 as WB2PSX, and helped build ham radio stations at Hutch-Tech high school, University/Buffalo, and University of Arizona.   When I went to Tucson for grad school, I passed my extra ticket and snagged the call K7TA (back when this meant 20wpm cw).  I held a first-class commercial ticket, which let me engineer at WBFO radio, but I don't know if commercial licenses even exist anymore.
   I now live in Oakland California, and occasionally get on the cw lowbands with old heathkit gear ... just rebuilt my novice NC-270 receiver with filaments that glow in the dark.  Gotta restring my 40 meter dipole that came down in a windstorm.  
   You can guess that I'm pretty much retired.  Along the way, I've worked in FM radio, planetary physics, computing, writing, speaking, teaching, and math.  Best way to reach me is through my website www.kleinbottle.com
   Warm wishes to all -- 73's,
-Cliff

Info on Cliff's latest gig: 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The First "Transistor Radio"


I'm a few days behind on this.  On October 18 Bob Crane pointed out that Garrison Keillor marked the anniversary of the broadcast band "transistor radio."   I had mine (a 1970s version), and it did indeed allow me to listen to that seditious rock music without parental interference. Looking around the shack, I still have items in use that have "Transistorized" as part of their product name (like my Lafayette Radio Electronics Transistorized DC Power Supply." 

Garrison (on October 18, 2017): 

It was on this day in 1954 that the first transistor radio appeared on the market.
Transistors were a big breakthrough in electronics — a new way to amplify signals. They replaced vacuum tubes, which were fragile, slow to warm up, and unreliable. During World War II, there was a big funding push to try to update vacuum tubes, since they were used in radio-controlled bombs but didn't work very well. A team of scientists at Bell Laboratories invented the first transistor technology in 1947. But the announcement didn't make much of an impact because transistors had limited use for everyday consumers — they were used mainly in military technology, telephone switching equipment, and hearing aids.
Several companies bought licenses from Bell, including Texas Instruments, who was bent on being the first to market with a transistor radio. Radios were mostly big, bulky devices that stayed in one place — usually in the living room — while the whole family gathered around to listen to programming. There were some portable radios made with vacuum tubes, but they were about the size of lunch boxes, they used heavy nonrechargeable batteries, they took a long time to start working while the tubes warmed up, and they were fragile. Texas Instruments was determined to create a radio that was small and portable, and to get it out for the Christmas shopping season. They produced the transistors, and they partnered with the Regency Division of Industrial Development Engineering Associates, who manufactured the actual radios. Their new radio, the Regency TR-1, turned on immediately, weighed half a pound, and could fit in your pocket. It cost $49.95, and more than 100,000 were sold.
Texas Instruments went on to pursue other projects, but a Japanese company called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo decided to make transistor radios their main enterprise. They were concerned that their name was too difficult for an American audience to pronounce, so they decided to rebrand themselves with something simpler. They looked up the Latin word for sound, which was sonus. And they liked the term sonny boys — English slang that was used in Japan for exceptionally bright, promising boys. And so the company Sony was born. Soon transistor radios were cheap and prevalent.
With transistor radios, teenagers were able to listen to music out of their parents' earshot. This made possible the explosion of a new genre of American music: rock and roll.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Quantum Indians



Beautiful video.  Strongly  recommended.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=350&v=bI7sasQsQWI

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ham Radio, Dilbert, Dating, and the Baofeng Breakup


Was the young lady turned off by his obvious "appliance op" status? Was it the Baofeng?  Would he have fared better with a homebrew rig? 

Dilbert addressed the relationship between ham radio and success in the dating game: 


I blame Peter VK2EMU for this digression. 


Saturday, October 14, 2017

SolderSmoke Podcast #200! 17, Knack Nobel, QCX, 630, UHF, Fessenden, TROUBLESHOOTING

DL3AO 1950
SolderSmoke Podcast #200 -- TWO HUNDRED!!!!-- Is available

http://soldersmoke.com/soldersmoke200.mp3

-- Old friends on 17 meters.  

-- Another Knack Nobel in Physics.  

-- Hans Summers' QCX transceiver:  $50 IS THE NEW 10 GRAND! 

-- New Bands!  630 and 2200 Meters.  BIG ANTENNAS! 

-- Nuke Powered QRP.  No joke! 

-- The Challenge of UHF.  Not for the faint of heart. 

-- Reginald Fessenden, Father of Phone. 

PETE'S BENCH REPORT:   The New Simple-ceiver.  Soon to be a Transceiver. 

BILL's BENCH REPORT:  Discrete, Direct Conversion, Ceramic Receiver in iPhone Box.  

THE EDUCATIONAL PORTION OF TODAY's PROGRAM:  
HOW TO TROUBLESHOOT A HOMEBREW RECEIVER. 

MAILBAG. 


DL3AO 1950

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SPRAT -- The 007 Connection


The eagle eye of Brent KD0GLS spotted this frame in the 007 movie "Casino Royale."  
Wow -- I just knew those GQRP guys had to be much cooler than they seemed.  I guess there were some indications: They do seem to talk quite a bit about "Q".  There is that weird fondness for Parasets. I understand that several of the senior GQRPers drive Aston Martins.  And that Dobbs guy -- a kindly retired Anglican minister you say?  Really?  I can just hear him saying it:  "Dobbs, George Dobbs."  
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